In the epistle addressed to Titus (Titus 2), Paul explains that the grace of God not only brings salvation but also TEACHES US to:
- deny ungodliness
- deny worldly lusts
- live soberly
- live righteously
- live godly
In other words, the Holy Spirit teaches BELIEVERS how to walk in a manner pleasing to God. But then Paul makes it perfectly clear, in the very next chapter (Titus 3), that NO ONE is saved by doing good works, declaring:
- Jesus came because of HIS kindness and love
- We are not saved because of our own righteousness works
- We are saved only because of HIS mercy
- We are cleansed by of the work of the HOLY SPIRIT, not our self effort
But some get hung up on Paul’s statement that we must be “careful to maintain good works”, as if that meant that works have some role in salvation. However, later in that same chapter, Paul explains why it is so very important that believers be “careful to maintain good works” (even though our salvation does not depend on them):
- Because works are good and profitable unto men.
- Because they that do them will be fruitful (useful, productive)
- Because they will be able to help those need
God doesn’t want our faith to only benefit us. He wants our faith to be demonstrated through our actions as well, in order that it might be profitable to others. Paul then contrasts good and profitable works with those that are unprofitable and vain (worthless):
- foolish questions
- contentions, and strivings about the law
God doesn’t want us caught up in foolish disputes but to become helpful and productive Christians. In part, that means spreading the good news of peace with Him through Jesus Christ, but it also means serving others with the same sacrificial love that He first showed us when He died for our sins. Good works are not performance installments that we must make to God in order to earn, pay back or even maintain our salvation. We are not saved by our works of righteousness. We are saved by the loving kindness and mercy of our Savior the moment we place our trust upon what He did for us. Good works are merely the outpouring of the love He first shed abroad in our own hearts. Good works are taught to us as we walk in submission to the indwelling Holy Spirit AFTER BEING SAVED. Titus 3:14 confirms this saying:
And let our’s also LEARN to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.— Titus 3:14
Good works do not earn us salvation or even keep us saved. They are something each of us must LEARN as we grow in our faith.
I am not claiming this is something I have already attained but rather something I continually strive after. We should want to maintain good works, not so we can boast before God, but so others might be able to see the love of God working in and through us and desire that relationship for themselves.